There's a mystery surrounding three of the most feared diseases we face. Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) all are characterized by two conditions. Each of them involves clumped, misfolded proteins and inflammation in the brain. The mystery for doctors and scientists is that they can't figure out what causes these processes in more than 90% of the cases. But could the cause be so simple that one supplement could prevent these from happening?
It sounds impossible. And, frankly, I'm still a bit skeptical. But this study out of the University of Louisville School of Medicine has me thinking.
In this study, a team of researchers discovered that the trigger for these processes may be certain proteins that your gut bacteria (the microbiota) make. We've known for years that the protein beta amyloid was involved in these three disease. But we've never pinned down the source of these proteins. This study suggests that exposure to bacterial proteins called amyloid — which have a similar structure to the brain proteins — can increase clumping of the protein alpha-synuclein in the brain.
Alpha-synuclein is a protein the neurons in your brain normally produce. In both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, this protein folds and clumps, producing amyloid. These clumps are what damage your neurons. But what causes them to fold and clump? That's what this study answered.
Turns out, bacteria in your gut produce similarly clumped proteins. And, through a process called cross-seeding, these clumped proteins cause brain proteins to misfold. This leads to deposits of aggregated brain proteins. This study also suggests that these amyloid proteins produced by the microbiota prime immune cells in the gut. This results in inflammation in the brain (and elsewhere).
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To determine this, the researchers gave rats two different strains of E. coli. One strain produced the bacterial amyloid protein. The other strain didn't produce the amyloid protein. The rats fed the amyloid-producing organisms showed increased levels of alpha-synuclein in both the intestines and the brain. What's interesting is that this bacteria also produced increased alpha-synuclein aggregation in the brain as well as higher levels of inflammation in the brain.
One of the authors of the reports said, “Proteins made by bacteria harbored in the gut may be an initiating factor in the disease process of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and ALS. This is important because most cases of these diseases are not caused by genes (emphasis added), and the gut is our most important environmental exposure. In addition, we have many potential therapeutic options to influence the bacterial populations in the nose, mouth, and gut.”
This is a fantastic discovery — one that could lead to the prevention of these terrible diseases. So what is there to be skeptical about? I'm still skeptical that taking a simple probiotic will prevent these diseases all by itself, as some have suggested. While taking a probiotic, such as Advanced Probiotic Formula
, is vital, there's more to gut health than just feeding it good bacteria. The foods you eat are extremely important in keeping your gut healthy. Getting plenty of minerals is often the overlooked factor in a healthy gut. And enzymes, such as those in Integrative Digestive Formula
, are important too. So is fiber, which I'll tell you more about in an upcoming alert.
The key here is that we may now have the answer to preventing most cases of these terrible diseases. Pay attention to your gut health. If it's not in great working order, take steps now to fix the issue. Your brain will thank you for years to come.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND
Shu G. Chen, Vilius Stribinskis, Madhavi J. Rane, Donald R. Demuth, Evelyne Gozal, Andrew M. Roberts, Rekha Jagadapillai, Ruolan Liu, Kyonghwan Choe, Bhooma Shivakumar, Francheska Son, Shunying Jin, Richard Kerber, Anthony Adame, Eliezer Masliah, Robert P. Friedland. Exposure to the Functional Bacterial Amyloid Protein Curli Enhances Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation in Aged Fischer 344 Rats and Caenorhabditis elegans. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 34477 DOI: 10.1038/srep34477.